Dodgers Accelerator rebrands as year-round effort

SportsBusiness Journal

The Los Angeles Dodgers and R/GA Ventures have retooled their business incubator program into a globally oriented and year-round entity with much larger ambitions.

The Los Angeles Dodgers Accelerator, founded in 2015, has mentored 15 startup and growth-stage companies on a seasonal model between August and November, quickly becoming one of the most successful incubator programs in the sports industry. The newly renamed and restructured Global Sports Venture Studio will now operate continuously, working primarily out of both Los Angeles and New York with plans to expand soon to London.

Like the original Dodgers Accelerator program, Global Sports Venture Studio will mentor and help develop emerging sports technology companies. But the effort will now focus more specifically on connecting those companies with potential partners and clients, and creating more collaborative projects.

The Global Sports Venture Studio structure, formally debuting this week, has been in development for nearly a year.

“This is really the next iteration of our sports tech engagement at the Dodgers,” said Tucker Kain, Dodgers chief financial officer and managing director of Guggenheim Baseball Management. “This new structure is going to allow for more of a rolling schedule and a deeper, more dynamic and more nimble level of engagement with startups instead of being constricted by a calendar.”

The first phase of the Dodgers Accelerator program worked with 10 companies, with five more selected for the second phase. Club and R/GA Ventures executives expect to work with eight to 10 companies per year in the new Global Sports Venture Studio structure. But along with the deeper level of operational involvement, investment levels in the startups will vary broadly and not stay tied to the prior Dodgers Accelerator format of a $120,000 investment in exchange for up to 6 percent equity.

“One of the key elements of this program is that each of us have a lot of resources that we all bring into this,” said Stephen Plumlee, R/GA Ventures managing partner.

The Global Sports Venture Studio will have a full-time staff of more than 10 people devoted to the effort, about twice the prior level in the Dodgers Accelerator. That core team will be supplemented by up to 75 creative, design and technology staffers from R/GA, along with increased hands-on support from Elysian Park Ventures, the investment arm also operated by club owner Guggenheim.

Several of the alumni companies from the Dodgers Accelerator program have become household names in the industry and gone on to receive larger rounds of funding. Among them are data and analytics software provider Kinduct, point-of-sale platform Appetize, automated sports video production outfit Keemotion, and real-time basketball analytics provider ShotTracker.

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